AMD Ups Its CPU Firepower Against Intel With 'Impressive' Carrizo Chip

Chip underdog Advanced Micro Devices is putting some firepower back into its battle against Intel with a new revision of its "Carrizo" mobile processor optimized for better graphics, longer battery life and enhanced performance with Windows 10. AMD unveiled its sixth-generation A-Series processor, previously code-named Carrizo, on Tuesday.

The midrange chip is aimed at consumer and commercial notebooks priced between $400 and $700, as well as 2-in-1 PCs. The processor is roughly comparable to a high-end i3 or low-end i5 Intel processor, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

"AMD has struggled to re-establish itself in the market, and this impressive processor makes a very compelling case to give the graphics-savvy chip maker a second look,’ McGregor said. Key to AMD’s success, he said, was how OEMs and channel partners would position the new AMD laptops and 2-in-1s.

[Related: AMD Debuts Slew Of Next-Gen CPUs/GPUs ]

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AMD said Asus, Acer, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba will ship Carrizo-powered notebooks this month. AMD has struggled to be more than a second thought for PC buyers. With key improvements and competitively priced SKUs, however, AMD has an opportunity to win back some market share from Intel, which currently dominates the PC landscape with 84 percent of the PC market compared to AMD with 16 percent, according to market analyst IDC.

"This puts AMD closer to a solid mobile footing compared to Intel," said Randy Copeland, president of Velocity Micro, a high-performance system builder based in Richmond, Va. "[Carrizo] brings solid performance per watt."

AMD’s new Carrizo chips include quad-core A8 and A10 processors, which have up to six GPU cores. AMD said the processors have been specifically engineered and optimized for use with Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. Performance enhancements are many, but boil down to twice the battery life of its predecessor, faster boot times and 2X faster application performance, especially with graphics-heavy applications compared to similar-class Intel processors.

The chips also include a number of proprietary AMD technologies. One is a dedicated hardware decoder built into the chip for movies encoded with the video standard HEVC. It also includes AMD Gesture Control and Looking Glass technology, which allows a notebook’s webcam to scan stored images, and recognize gestures and faces within images.

Carrizo also includes a business-friendly feature called Trusted Platform Module 2.0 and Drive Key Encryption to secure the laptop’s content.

AMD’s success with Carrizo hinges not so much on its appeal to consumers or a business, rather to OEMs and solution providers, said Copeland. "What it will come down to in the commercial space is good value and a trusted OEM getting behind AMD PCs."